Music Article

Puttin' on the Hits

''American Idol,'' ''Grey's Anatomy,'' and ''SNL'' are some programs that can boost new music sales

Now that The O.C.'s headed to boob tube heaven, here are the four most coveted TV slots for showcasing new music — and boosting sales.

Grey's Anatomy
The Sound Girly, whimsical pop (KT Tunstall) and sweeping tearjerkers (Snow Patrol). The Gatekeeper Music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas, who also put The O.C. on the music industry's radar. Producers Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers make the final call. The Power Grey's deploys pop music more effectively than any other drama: It helped the Fray become a multiplatinum act by dropping ''How to Save a Life'' into two episodes and creating a special Grey's-themed video that aired before the season 3 premiere.

The Oprah Winfrey Show
The Sound Only the filthiest rappers...kidding! Arena acts (Neil Diamond), soul divas (Mary J. Blige), and the most tasteful mom-rock around (John Mayer). The Gatekeeper Various producers have input, but as with the Book Club, only the big O herself can give the green light. The Power ''When Oprah recommends anything, she moves the needle like no other human,'' says Atlantic Records president Julie Greenwald, who watched as CD sales for James Blunt increased 141 percent after his performance on the show last March.

American Idol
The Sound Popular acts with multigenerational appeal, like Queen, Kenny Rogers, and Stevie Wonder. A hummable back catalog, however, isn't the only requirement. Explains exec producer Ken Warwick: ''They have to be willing to mentor the kids. If they're not prepared to give, then we're not going to give back.'' The Gatekeepers Exec producers Warwick and Simon Fuller. The Power After Rod Stewart appeared last April, sales of his four Great American Songbook albums increased a whopping 253 percent.

Saturday Night Live
The Sound The biggest (Justin Timberlake), the buzziest (Lily Allen), and the most legendary (Prince). The Gatekeepers Brian Siedlecki books 'em, and SNL creator-producer Lorne Michaels personally approves 'em. The Power Industry insiders admit that SNL's effect on sales isn't as big as it once was. Still, landing the late-night slot has an incomparable cachet: ''It's an iconic moment,'' says Steve Manning of SubPop, who recently secured a gig for the Shins on the Jan. 13 show. Two weeks later, their third album debuted at No. 2.

Originally posted Feb 16, 2007 Published in issue #922 Feb 23, 2007 Order article reprints